Along Via degli Dei trail discovering the Flaminia military trail
History narrates that the the consul Flaminio, in 187 B.C., after having won the battle against the Ligurians on the Tosco-Emiliano Apennine, had a road built by his legionaries, which linked Bologna
and Arezzo. Because of neglect, the road disappeared with the passing of time. Parts remained only in sections where age-old sediment covered it. Thanks to the devout intuition of two men Cesare Agostini and Franco Santi, in 1979 the first section of road was brought back to light.
Since then various other sections have been recovered making up an 11 kilometre long road. Single archaeological sites are found starting from different departure points, or by following the entire crest (6 hour itenerary, rest stops included). To visit some of the better preserved sections of road we suggest the route that starts out at the Futa Pass. The section described below is part of
the historically rich road way that links Bologna to Florence, and known as “Via degli Dei” (the road of the Gods). The road takes its name from the various place names of ancient Greek gods
along the route, as Adonis, Venus, Juno. Info: www.viadeglidei.it
- The route: From the Futa to the Passeggere Pass
- Travel time: 3 ½ hrs.
- Climb: 300 uphill, 200 downhill
- Trails: 019, VD (Via degli Dei) and SO.F.T. 11
- Difficulty: Undemanding trek, accessible also by mountain bike.
From the Futa Pass, the trail moves along the road to Bruscoli and the motorway passing in front of the German War Cemetery. The marked trail enters the beech wood just opposite the “La Futa” camp site. It climbs steadily through a dense reforested Douglass fir wood until it reaches the trail that leaves Campo all’Orzino.
The trail climbs steeply to the left along a path where various excavations testify to the presence of an ancient Roman road, known as the “Flaminia Miltaris”, in a highly intriguing setting. Another rapid climb, again through an indistinct dense beech wood (watch the signs!), leads to the ridge and an unmistakable fork in the road.
The trail then moves left down to the beautiful fields that overlook the Passeggere hill first and the mountain pass with the same name later, bypassing an artificial pool to the right.
- The route: From the Futa Pass to Monte di Fo'
- Travel time: 1 hour
- Elevation gain: 240 metres
- Trails: 052, VD
- Difficulty: Not difficult, suited also for mountain bike
From the Futa Pass the route moves west along a wide trail (n. 52 CAI) and downwards. Follow the trail for about 15 minutes. At the crossing, turn left onto a dirt road. After another 15 minutes a sign indicates a trail that descends steeply. Follow this trail for 10 minutes. Here we find three sufficiently preserved remains of an ancient Roman pavement.
A trail off the right, just past the ruins, descends among a thick conifer forest. After fifteen minutes of travel the trails reaches a fenced area where we find the Monte di Fo' Camp Site and regional road 65.
On the web site www.fiaminiamilitare.it, Agostini and Santi, the men who discovered the road, tell of the enthralling twenty year archeological adventure that brought the Flaminia Militare to light.
Brief historical note
When, in 187 B.C., two years after the foundation of Bonania, the consul C. Flaminio was sent by the Roman senate to conquer the Liguri Apuani and Mugello tribes, who also occupied the Tuscan-Emilia Apennines, in order to penetrate their rugged, mountainous territory, he probably used the Etruscan transapennine route that went from Bonania to Fiesole and beyond. In the XXXIX Book of the "Historiae Romanae", Tito Livio writes about how the consul's legions, after defeating the Liguri Apuani, built a road from Bologna to Arezzo. This road runs along the watershed between Savena and Setta: just past the Futa Pass, this road descends slowly towards the Mugello territory.
It is the shortest route between Bologna and Fiesole, and the gradient is moderate because the ridges rise slowly to the Futa Pass. This is the route, along the crests of these two ridges, that Etruscan, then Roman, and later Medieval travellers took to cross the Apennines. The greatness of the execution, the technique used, the solid construction and the continuity have brought its discovers to believe that the road was
built by Flaminio's legions. The Roman pavement is 240 cm. wide, 8 Roman feet, in accordance with the laws of the XII table, which, from 450 B.C. onwards, established the minimum width of the roads. The road is only paved in sections where the natural foundation of the land is not
solid, especially when wet. (from "Trekking da Bologna a Firenze per gli antichi sentieri del La via degli Dei" by Domenico Manaresi and the guidebook "La via degli Dei" - Tamari Montagna Edizioni).
The Vie Romee: Via Bolognese
In the 13th century, Florence was the principal communication route for the Padania territory. The transapennine route that had to be run went from Florence to Bologna. It was the route used to reach the upper Santerno valley and was only later extended to Bologna.
Past San Piero a Sieve, the road moved towards the churches in Sant'Agata and Cornacchia, using the Mugello crossing known as Osteria Bruciata (burnt inn), which was later replaced by the Giogo Pass.
The new route, which, for the most part, moves along the road run by the Romans (see Flaminia Militare pp. 27), soon became the road used for travel between central and northern Italy. It was used by merchants, travellers and, in particular, pilgrims on their way to Rome. Many of these, especially pilgrims from central Europe, crossed the Alps, reached the Padana Plains, and then they took the route that runs from Emilia to Bologna, and later the road to Florence. Using the roads that, south, linked the cities along the Arno River to those of the Francigena (the Sienese and Roman roads); pilgrims could then take the roads that from Siena and Poggibonso led back to the ancient Roman route.
The road that linked Florence to Bologna will also be the road that Florentine travellers took on two other important pilgrimages: to Santiago de Compostela and Jerusalem. Some of the memoirs of the Jacobean pilgrims who travelled from Florence on these long pilgrimages include a description of the transapennine route that led to Bologna and then, passing through Emilia, to Borgo San Donnino and the Francigena route. Pilgrims on their way to The Holy Land also passed through Bologna on their way to Venice, from which pilgrims took sail for Jerusalem in the 14th century. The route runs mostly along natural paths and dirt roads (55%) and on secondary paved roads (45%).
There are sections with rather difficult ascents and descents (Ceppeto - Monte Senario; Sant’Agata - Firenzuola; Firenzuola-Covigliaio). The route moves through breathtakingly beautiful areas, autochthon, broad-leaved and conifer woods that date back to the beginning of the last century.
The itinerary alternates between typical cycle-tourism routes along paved and dirt roads, and routes that are on even ground (MC class) suited to amateur cyclists. Except for the section that goes from Passeggeri to Civigliaio, the route is usually sufficiently visible and identifiable.
For information see: www.vieromee.it and the guide book "Vie Romee: gli itinerary dei pellegrini nel Contado Fiorentino" by Renato Stopani Edizioni Le Lettere (project by the Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze).